The Minister of Works, David Umahi, has said that the use of concrete technology in road construction had come to stay.
He also directed the contractors working on federal roads, especially in the South-East region, to prioritize the completion of carriageways first before working on the spurs (side roads) to ensure speedy project completion.
Umahi gave the order while inspecting the ongoing construction work at the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway in Enugu and Anambra States by MTN Nigeria Communication Plc.
Other projects inspected include: the rehabilitation of Old Enug-Onitsha Road, among others in the South-East.
These were in a statement by the Director (Information) Press & Public Relations Unit, of the Ministry, Lere-Adams Blessing, in Abuja, on Thursday.
She said the minister also ordered that the remaining portion of the roads still under construction be done using concrete pavement as he noticed that some of the road shoulders are already cracking because the quality of bitumen in use is of low quality and adulterated.
The Director quoted Umahi as saying, “I will allow the portions already laid with asphalt but the failing road shoulder should be replaced with concrete carriage.
“I know what I am saying; the quality of bitumen in this country is low and adulterated.
“We will not give up the fight till we get to the level where after construction, the road stays for 30 to 50 years before we talk of maintenance.”
He maintained that the use of concrete technology in road construction is cheaper, safer and reduces the longer time contractors have to stay on site trying to patch failed portions after the project completion, and that with the use of concrete pavement, no one goes back to check if the road is failing or not because road failure when concrete is in use is laughable.
“It is safer doing it on concrete and cheaper. I believe strongly that when a project is so expensive it keeps the contractor a longer time on site because he will keep delaying to get all his payment, meanwhile there is no money to pay him so he keeps staying on site doing nothing.
The Minister subsequently directed all contractors that have left their site because of payment to quickly and immediately move back to site or he will terminate the contract.
He noted that the monies released already to the contractors from what he was told is suppose `to complete the carriageways before requesting for additional money.
He said: “I am optimistic that the money available will complete the work. Come with your bill of quantity so we review it and give you proper directive.
“Move back to site immediately to continue your work within seven days or I terminate the contract. You cannot say we are owing you and because of that you stop work.”
Umahi promised the contractors that funds would be made available as long as they played their part in ensuring project delivery in line with agreements reached.
He added that he will be meeting with the funding partners and the one being financed through appropriation, all will be given attention.
According to him, “You said there is no money to complete the project. It is my duty to chase the debt, it is yours to go back to site. I guarantee that the money will be paid.
“I will meet with the financers and we will do what we are suppose to do.”
The Minister demanded that the Director, Highways, South-East, Engr. Bede Obioha, bring up the entire project for review to see how they will put ideas together to ensure that all the outstanding projects be completed and be open for usage.
While briefing the Minister and his team, the Operations Manager, Niger Cat Construction Company Ltd. Engr. Fadi Mosaad, commended the Minister for his directives on the use of concrete pavement saying it’s going to help considering the soil texture and the terrain of the zone.
The projects visited were rehabilitation of old Enugu–Port Harcourt Road (Agbogugu–Abia Border spur to Mmaku, Rehabilitation of Oji–Achi – Mmaku – Awgu – Ndeabgor Road section 1 in Enugu State);
Construction of Ugwueme – Nenwenta – Mkwe – Ezere – Awunta – Obeagu – Mgbidi Nmaku Road in Enugu State; construction of Enugu – Onitsha Expressway in Enugu and Anambra States; the rehabilitation of Old Enugu – Onitsha Road (Opi Junction – Ukehe – Okpatu – Awhum, Abor –Udi – Oji to Anambra).
In a related development, the minister said the battle to enforce the use of concrete technology will continue because the present administration wants Nigerians to get value for money.
He made the pronouncement in a chart with reporters during his inspection tour of the rehabilitation of outstanding section of Onitsha-Enugu Expressway under the Road Infrastructure Tax Credit Scheme – Contract no 7629 on September 6, 2023.